When it comes to smartwatches, it’s Apple against the world. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of other products to choose from — it’s more that the company has just utterly dominated the space to such a point that any other device is relegated to the realm of “Apple Watch alternatives.”
The company has been successful in the space for the usual Apple reasons: premium hardware with deeply integrated software, third-party support, a large cross-device ecosystem play and, of, course, simplicity. Taken as a whole, the Watch just works, right out of the box.
Five years after launch, the line is fairly mature. As such, it’s no surprise, really, that recent updates have largely amounted to refinements. As with most updates, the watch has gotten a processor boost up to the A14 processor, which the company claims is 20% faster than the last version.Perhaps the biggest hardware upgrade, however, is the addition of a blood oxygen sensor, an important piece in the company’s quest to offer as complete an image of wearer health as is possible from the wrist.
I wrote a pretty lengthy piece about the watch last week after wearing it for a few days. As I mentioned at the time, it was an odd kind of writeup, somewhere between hands-on and review. A week or so later, however, I’m more comfortable calling this a review — even if not too many of my initial impressions have changed much in the past several days. After all, a mature product largely means most of the foundations remain unchanged.
The Series 6 certainly looks the part. The Watch is tough to distinguish from other recent models — and for that matter, the new and significantly cheaper SE. The biggest visual change is the addition of new colors. In addition to the standard Gray and Gold, Apple’s added new Blue and (Product)Red cases. The latter seems to be the more ostentatious of the pair. The company sent me a blue model, and honestly, it’s a lot more subtle than I expected. It’s more of a deep blue hue, really, that reads more as black a lot of the time.
It’s tough to imagine the product undergoing any sort of radical rethink of the device’s design language at this point. We may see slight tweaks, including larger screen area going forward, but on the whole, Apple is very much committed to a form factor that has worked very well for it. I will probably always prefer Samsung’s spinning bezel as a quick way to interface with the operating system, but the crown does the job well and scrolling through menus even feels a bit zippier this time, perhaps owing to that faster silicon.
The new Solo Loop bands hit a bit of a hiccup out of the gate. I’ve detailed that a bit more here, but I suspect that much of the problem came down to the difficulty of selling a specifically sized product during a strange period in history where in-person try-ons aren’t really an option. In other words, just really bad timing on that front.
Personally, I quite like the braided model. I’ve been using it as my day to day band. It’s nice and blends in a lot better than the silicone model (I’ve frankly never been much of a fan of Apple’s silicone bands). But I do need to mention that Apple sent me a couple different sizes, which made it much easier to find the right fit. I recognize that. Especially when the braided Solo Loop costs a fairly exorbitant $99. The silicone version is significantly cheaper at $49, but either way, you’re not getting off cheap there. So you definitely want to make sure you get the right fit.
Image Credits: Brian Heater
This is doubly important given the fact that the Series 6’s biggest new feature — blood oxygen monitoring — is highly dependent on you getting a good fit. The sensor utilizes a series of LEDs on the bottom of the watch to shine infrared and red light through the wearer’s skin and into their blood vessels. The color of light that reflects back gives the watch a picture of the oxygen levels in the blood. The whole thing takes about 15 seconds, but only works if your fit is right. Even with the right Solo Loop on, I found myself having to retake it a few times when I first started wearing the watch.
Beyond the on-demand measurements, the watch will also take readings throughout the day and night, mapping these trends over time and incorporating them into sleep readings. The overall readings will give you a good picture of your numbers over time. Honestly though, I get the sense that this is really just the tip of the iceberg of future functionality.
For now, there’s really no specific guidance — or context — given as far as what the numbers mean. Mine are generally between 90-100%. The Mayo Clinic tells me that’s good, but obviously there are a lot of different factors and variations that can’t properly be contextualized in a single paragraph — or on a watch. And Apple certainly doesn’t want to be accused of attempting to diagnose a condition or offer specific medical guidance. That’s going to be an increasingly difficult line for the company to walk as it gets more serious about these sorts of health tools.
If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the combination of sleep tracking in watchOS 7 and the on-board oximeter opens the door pretty nicely for something like sleep apnea tracking (again, more focused on alerts of irregularity versus diagnosis). We’ve seen a small handful of companies like Withings tackle this, so it seems like a no-brainer for Apple, pending all of the regulatory requirements, et al. There are all sorts of other conditions that blood oxygen levels could potentially alert the wearer to, if not actually diagnose.
Sleep was probably the biggest addition with the latest version of watchOS. This was probably the biggest blind spot for the line, compared to the competition. At the moment, the sleep tracking is, admittedly, still pretty basic. Like much of the rest of the on-board tracking, it’s mostly compared with changes over time. The metrics include time in bed versus time asleep, as well as incorporating heart rate figures from the sensor’s regular check-ins. More specific breakdowns, including deep versus light versus REM sleep haven’t arrived yet, but will no doubt be coming sooner than later.
Image Credits: Brian Heater
The door is also wide open for Apple to really get mindfulness right. The company has incorporated a mindfulness reminder for a while now, but it’s easy to imagine how the addition of various sensors like heart rate could really improve the picture and find the company going all-in on meditation, et al. The company could partner with a big meditation name — or, more likely, disrupt things with its own offering. The forthcoming Fitness+ offering could play an important role in the growth of that category, as well.
The other issue that sleep brings to the front is battery life. I was banking on the company making big strides in the battery department — after all, a big part of sleep tracking is ensuring that you’ve got enough charge to get through the night. Apple really only briefly touched on battery — though a recent teardown has revealed some smallish improvements on battery capacity (perhaps owing, in part, to space freed up by the dropping of Force Touch).
The company has also made some improvements to energy efficiency, courtesy of the new silicon. Official literature puts it at a “full-day” ofbattery life, up to 18 hours. I found I was able to get through a full day with juice to spare. That’s good, but the company’s still got some ground to make up on that front, compared to, say, the Fitbit Sense, which is capable of getting nearly a week on a charge. I think at this point, it’s fair to hold wearables to higher standards of battery life than, say, handsets. More than once, I’ve found myself intermittently charging the device — 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there — in order to have enough juice left by bedtime.
If you can spare more time than that, you should be able to get up to 80% in an hour or 100% in an hour and a half, courtesy of faster wireless charging. All told, the company has been able to shave significant time off of charging — a definite plus now that you’re not just leaving it overnight to charge. The latest version of watchOS will also handily let you know before if you don’t have enough charge to make it through a full night.
Other updates include the addition of the always-on Altimeter, which, along with the brighter screen doesn’t appear to have had a major impact on the battery. I’ll be honest, being stuck in the city for these last several months hasn’t given me much reason to need real-time elevation stats. Though the feature is a nice step toward taking the Watch a bit more seriously as an outdoor accessory in a realm that has largely been dominated by the likes of Garmin.
Image Credits: Brian Heater
Of course, the company now has three watches on the market — including the Series 3, which just keeps on ticking, and the lower-cost SE. The latter retains the design of the Series 6, but drops a number of the key sensors, which honestly should be perfectly sufficient for many users — and $170 cheaper than the 6’s $399 starting price ($499 with cellular).
Taken as a whole, the Series 6 isn’t a huge leap forward over the Series 5 — and not really worth the upgrade for those who already own that recent vintage. But there are nice improvements throughout, augmented by good upgrades to watchOS that make the best-selling smartwatch that much better, while clearly laying the groundwork for Apple Watches of the future.
As the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro make their way to customers around the world, Apple’s VP of iPhone product marketing Kaiann Drance recently joined the Rich On Tech show with Rich DeMuro for an interview. During the show, Drance talked in-depth about the iPhone 12, MagSafe accessories, and more.
Regarding the iPhone 12’s support for 5G, Drance explained how Apple is working to balance battery life concerns with the faster cellular connection:
We are able to make a bunch of software optimizations throughout the entire system to make battery life even better. On top of that we added a new feature called “Smart Data mode” that will allow you to manage your 5G usage and battery life a bit better, so you can use 5G speeds when it really matters.
Drance also touched Apple’s decision to switch to including USB-C to Lightning cables in the box this year. DeMuro questioned Apple’s decision to switch from USB-A to USB-C this year, while also dropping the included charging brick altogether.
Drance explained that USB-C is faster and more modern, and that if you have a Mac or an iPad or many other consumer technology products, you likely already have a USB-C charing brick. She also pointed out that the old USB-A to Lightning cables still work perfectly.
Regarding the new MagSafe accessories, DeMuro asked about the effect the magnetization could have on credit cards with magnetic stripes. Drance pointed out that credit cards should be ok, but the thing to watch for is single-use cards such as hotel room keys. “What you do want to just watch out for is those single-use types of cards like the hotel cards,” she explained. “you might not want to put that right against it.”
Finally, Drance addressed what shoppers should expect if they visit an Apple Store as a walk-in visitor this iPhone launch season. This year, Drance says that if you show up as a walk-in, you’ll likely get an appointment to come back at a later time — but if you are able to visit that same day, you can expect to wait longer than usual due to social distancing guidelines. You can learn more about Apple’s retail strategy in our full guide right here.
No new confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being reported by the Brant County Health Unit for the second consecutive day.
The number of active cases, those that considered infectious, dropped on Friday to 16, a decrease of three from the day before.
No one with an active case of the virus is in hospital.
There have been 225 lab-confirmed cases in Brantford-Brant since the pandemic began, with 204 of them considered resolved.
There are five local deaths associated with the virus.
An outbreak declared on Oct. 15 at Hardy Terrace Long-term Care Home in Mount Pleasant, where one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus continues.
Of the confirmed local cases, 175 people are from Brantford and 50 from Brant County.
In the majority of cases (54 per cent), the virus was contracted through close contact with an infected person, followed by 22 per cent contracted through community spread. Fourteen per cent of cases are associated with an outbreak and 10 per cent through travel. The means of transmission in 0.4 per cent of cases is pending.
Those between the ages of 20 and 39 account for 39 per cent of cases, followed by 31 per cent aged 40 to 59, 15 per cent aged 60 to 79, 11 per cent under age 20 and four per cent aged 80 and over.
There had been 31,993 COVID-19 tests conducted as of Friday morning at the Brant Community Healthcare System’s assessment centre.
The latest posted numbers from Six Nations of the Grand River indicate there are 26 active cases of COVID-19 on the territory. The total number of confirmed Six Nations cases is 74 since the start of the the pandemic, with 48 of them considered resolved. One Six Nations resident has died of COVID-19.
The launch of Apple’s iPhone 12 series confirmed something rumored for months prior: there will be no iPhone 12 charger in the box. When you buy an iPhone 12 in the US and most other countries, regardless of the model, it comes with what you see in the image above (and some additional paperwork). That’s it.
During the iPhone 12 launch event, Apple made a big to-do about this change. It put Lisa Jackson — the company’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives — on the roof of Apple HQ to talk about just how eco-friendly the company is. In her words, removing the charger, as well as the usually included wired EarPods, “reduces carbon emissions and avoids the mining and use of precious materials.” Additionally, she pointed out that removing those items enabled a “smaller, lighter iPhone box,” which allows the company to fit more products onto a single shipping pallet, further reducing its environmental impact.
Honestly, seeing Mrs. Jackson on the roof of Apple HQ surrounded by solar panels talking about how much Apple cares for the environment seems pretty convincing. However, Apple’s decision to remove the iPhone 12 charger and EarPods isn’t nearly as environmentally friendly as it makes it seem. It’s very possible that the change could allow Apple to earn more money in the end, making the motivation for these changes somewhat dubious.
First, let me explain why this big new change isn’t as great of a step in the battle against e-waste as Apple is cracking it up to be. Then, I’ll talk a bit about what Apple could have done instead.
Apple is pushing the narrative that its removal of in-box iPhone accessories is all about the environment. However, it is neglecting to mention a few other things related to that move:
It is still making the charger: The iPhone 12 charger still exists, it’s just not in the box. Apple is producing them and selling them for $19 each.
A lot of current iPhone chargers won’t work: The cable that comes in the box with your iPhone 12 is a Lightning-to-USB-C system. This is incompatible with every charger you previously received with another iPhone model. The sole exception is the iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max. In other words, unless you’re upgrading from an 11 Pro, you won’t be able to use the cable in the box unless — you guessed it — you buy a USB-C charger.
The iPhone 12 can charge quickly, but likely not with what you own: The iPhone 12 lineup is capable of charging at 20W with the proper cable and charger. Apple provides you the cable for this, but not the charger. If you use an older 5W charger/cable from every other iPhone (or even the 18W system from the 11 Pro/11 Pro Max), you won’t see those 20W speeds. Once again, you’ll need to buy a charger from Apple for this. If you want to buy a third-party charger to give Apple the cold shoulder, it will need to be “Made for iPhone” under the MFi program. Otherwise, your phone will yell at you for using uncertified hardware.
Those three aspects of Apple’s decision to remove the iPhone 12 charger won’t be highlighted by Lisa Jackson while she’s on the roof of Apple HQ. After all, it’s hard to argue that environmentalism is the reasoning while simultaneously asking for $19 for a charger that was previously included for free.
Ultimately, Apple simply didn’t go far enough on behalf of the environment. Removing the charger and the EarPods is a big step in the right direction, sure, but the effort is hollow without going all the way. Here are two ways Apple could have done this better.
Option #1: Transparent, but still not eco-friendly
One of the biggest issues I have with this situation is Apple’s attempts to capitalize on it financially. First, the company is saving money by not packaging the iPhone 12 charger or the Apple EarPods in the box. Then, it’s saving more money by making the box smaller and spending less on shipping fees. Finally, it stands to then earn additional revenue by selling the charger and EarPods separately for $19 each.
Don’t forget that the new MagSafe system can also charge your iPhone 12. There’s no MagSafe charger in the box, either, and buying one of those will set you back $39.
This all makes it seem as if Apple’s motivations aren’t about the environment at all. The easiest way for Apple to avoid this would be to offer the charger and the EarPods for free via an aftermarket system. If the company made it so you could stop into an Apple Store with your iPhone 12 and get a free 20W charger and a set of EarPods, it would eliminate the implication that Apple stands to financially prosper from this decision. Invariably, not every iPhone 12 buyer would do this. This, in turn, would have the effect Apple says it wants: the creation of fewer chargers and headphones. At the same time, the move would seem more genuinely environmentally conscious, rather than a way to get an extra $40 from customers.
Of course, this still isn’t as environmentally friendly as it could be. The chargers are still being produced. They also require their own packaging and need to be shipped from China to the rest of the world. The environmental impact is still there.
For Apple to truly make a stand for the environment above its own bottom line, it would need to take more drastic measures. It would need to make iPhones compatible with everything else.
Option #2: Transparent and eco-friendly
While the option posed above gets rid of the financial incentive for Apple’s removal of the iPhone 12 charger, it would only partially help the environment. The cables and chargers would still need to be created, and the compatibility issues with Lightning-to-USB-C would still exist. For the company to truly make the iPhone more environmentally friendly, it would need to do what environmentalists have long been asking for: eliminate the proprietary Lightning connector and go all-in on USB-C.
Yes, USB-C is still a mess of a system. However, USB-C is still better than Lightning in that every cable fits in every USB-C device and does the bare minimum: deliver power and transfer data.
The European Commission has long been fighting to create legislation that would prevent Apple (and any other company) from releasing products that require proprietary cabling. A one-cable solution is not only environmentally friendly but also user-friendly. If you had one cable that could charge your phone, laptop, tablet, and e-reader regardless of the brands of any of those devices, wouldn’t that be far better than what we have today?
With most of the electronics industry embracing USB-C at this point, Apple is the only major holdout with Lightning. If the company ditched Lightning on iPhones it would be a move towards sustainability that could never be mistaken for profit-motivated change. And hey, it already did it with iPads — what’s stopping it from doing it with iPhones?
iPhone 12 charger is gone, but what’s coming instead?
Let me close this out by making something perfectly clear: the core idea of Apple removing the in-box charger from the iPhone 12 lineup is, in itself, a good thing. Apple is right in saying that not producing more chargers than necessary is better for the environment. Android OEMs are making fun of Apple at the moment, but we (and you) know that it’s only a matter of time before they also remove the charger from their own phones. Apple and other OEMs might not do it because it’s the right thing to do, but at least they’re doing something. Apple should be commended for leading the way here.
However, there’s still so much that Apple (and every electronics manufacturer) could be doing. Getting rid of Lightning and other proprietary connectors would be a huge step in the right direction. Government mandates requiring electronic OEMs to only use one type of system would also be terrific. More ubiquitous recycling systems would also be great, as would better and cheaper access to repairs (something Apple has repeatedlyblocked) and longer software upgrade cycles. There’s still a ton of work to do.
My concern now, though, is with MagSafe. Apple’s next big move could be to simply remove the Lightning port from future iPhones altogether and use MagSafe as its charging/data transfer solution of the future. Of course, that would put us right back where we started: with Apple having a proprietary platform that no one else has. One that will need to be built and shipped for the basic functionality of the phone.
The bottom line is that it isn’t likely that Apple or any other electronic OEM will do right by the environment on its own. Apple had the option to make big steps here, and it didn’t for whatever reason. Despite its literal rooftop posturing, Apple’s profits appear to trump its care for the environment in the end.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.